Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
If you have read Sarina Bowen’s Lies & Lullabies, book 1 of the Hush Note series, then you are already familiar with Jonah, Quinn, and Nixon, the members of Hush Note, the fictional band whose stories make up this series. In Devney Perry’s Rifts & Refrains, the second book of the series, it becomes clear that the message threaded through these stories is the idea that fame and fortune can never replace the need to be loved. Whether it’s Jonah or Quinn’s second chance romances, the focus of these books is the idea that we must love and be loved to live a fruitful and abundant life. And in a world where the title “influencer” is a new occupation and people are striving to achieve fame and fortune, it feels so very important. Add to that message the brilliance of a writer such as Devney Perry, and you are gifted a story such as Rifts & Refrains, the story of Quinn and Graham, her high school boyfriend.
From the very first page, I could not put this book down. This is common for me when I’m reading anything from Devney Perry. I began it in the late afternoon and almost finished it in the early morning hours of the next day, but my eyes didn’t allow it, so I woke up after four hours of sleep to finish it. There is something captivating about Quinn and Graham’s chemistry even when they try to avoid it. And it made me realize that Perry’s superpower lies in her talent in writing chemistry between her characters. I’ve read romances aplenty where the chemistry feels a bit contrived. It tends to lose steam at times. In R&R, that never happens. Instead, it builds and builds so that when Graham and Quinn must make a difficult decision, you can’t help but feel their discouragement immensely. One of the reasons I didn’t want to put this story down is the driving force of their chemistry throughout the totality of their journey. Perry doesn’t make it easy for you or them. They don’t readily pick up where they left off as high school sweethearts. No. Perry makes them run an emotional gauntlet, and as a reader, you feel every moment of it. That’s the depth of Perry’s superpower and the reason I will read every book she writes. She carefully crafts chemistry in such a way that she invests me in her characters’ journey. This isn’t easy, but yet, she makes it seem so.
Even more, Perry has the ability to create characters who, while fictional, seem so very real. In this story, Quinn is the superstar drummer of Hush Note. She should be larger than life, and Perry, in some ways, alludes to that. But she isn’t. Instead, Quinn’s sense of self and her place in her family is very, very real, and it makes seem minimized. I have no qualms about crying while reading a story. For me, that means that the writer has done their job, making a story so real that I empathize with their characters. Quinn’s story and her challenges were the moments where I found myself with tears running down my face. I understand her story even though I haven’t lived it. Perry’s ability to write a character that feels so much like a real person that I emotionally devote myself to her is the other reason I can never say “no” to a Perry romance. Graham’s characterization is no different. His hurt over Quinn’s life choices is visceral. You understand it even though Quinn’s choices make sense. In R&R, Perry allows the evolution of Quinn and Graham to be more fully realized in Graham’s character as he represents both her past and her future. This connects you to him more deeply, and you feel his pain more palpably as their future becomes endangered.
Finally, I am certain that Devney Perry writes the BEST epilogues of any romance writer. Honestly. And the epilogue for Rifts & Refrains is no different. For me, the last three lines of this book are gloriously crafted, and they gave me goosebumps further illustrating that Perry is, in my mind, the Queen of the Epilogue.
Over and over again, I’m reminded of Devney Perry’s prowess at writing romance. Rifts & Refrains is an apt example of that. It might be set in a different town, in a different setting, with different characters and story. However, her touch is found in her characters and their chemistry. She compels you to feel the pain and elation of her characters so that, when they find their happy ending, you want to shout to the rooftops a “congratulations” for their happily-ever-after.
In love and romance,